When my kids are home, my house is filled with music. Always, someone is playing the piano, or strumming a guitar, or practicing the drums. On weekends, when extra kids come over, the living room is so filled with amps and guitars and coiled black cords that you can hardly walk through the room. I love the music and energy of a jam session, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I am home by myself during the day, I am usually ready for some silence.
Over the last few weeks, though, when I've had some peaceful moments to myself, I've been listening to a CD that my father made and presented to everyone in the family at Thanksgiving. He recorded 16 holiday songs, Christmas songs so familiar to me from my childhood that I know all the words.
While I've been cleaning or cooking or sitting by the fire, I've been listening to the music that I grew up with, songs that remind me of helping my mother make Christmas cookies or playing Scrabble at the kitchen table with my grandmother or standing backstage at elementary school plays. One song reminds me of the time we decided to paint a holiday scene on the picture window in the living room.
One of the unique things about the CD is that, thanks to modern technology, you can hear my father playing ... with my father. Who is that on the clarinet? My Dad. Who is that on the tenor sax? My Dad. Who is that playing the keyboard? My Dad. Who is the vocalist? My Dad.
When you live with musicians, you learn to recognize their individual styles. I can almost always tell, for instance, which of my four kids is playing the piano, even if I am not in the room when I am listening. So there is something funny about putting in a CD, listening to a group of musicians, and then recognizing that every one of them is my father.